The Preservation Society of Charleston, World Monuments Fund (WMF) and National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) hosted the first-ever international symposium discussing issues confronted by historic port communities around the world as a result of the burgeoning cruise industry.

Held from February 6th through 8th at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, the purpose was to foster an interchange of ideas and experiences of historic port cities from around the world.

Charleston was chosen as the “host” city for several reasons:

  1. Charleston has a well-earned reputation taking a proactive stance to protect the balance between growth in tourism while maintaining the character, ambiance and accessibility to historic homes along with protecting the quality of life for City residents.
  2. As a relative newcomer to “home-porting” cruise ships, the organizations hoped information shared might lead to Charleston’s removal from the WMF and NTHP “Watch” lists.


Entitled “Harboring Tourism,” the event featured speakers from around the world who presented a varying assortment of impacts experienced in small historic communities. From Norway to Cozumel, Barcelona to Valletta, the discussions and slideshows were compelling and showed how the use of controls and regulations can allow cruise tourism to coexist with maintaining the character of the places that the tourists on the ships want to visit, rather than over-exposing them and losing the essence of what those cities/areas have to offer. Click here for a great summary of the event.

It should be noted that only the panelists were “invited.” Attendance was open to anyone who purchased a ticket. The South Carolina State Ports Authority and City of Charleston were each provided two free passes. The SPA declined to attend, and no word was ever heard from anyone in Charleston city offices.

The Keynote Speaker, Craig Milan spoke from personal experience working with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and efforts the company has made to facilitate the growing demand for cruise travel.

Each of the 7 panels had between 3-4 participants and was concluded with a question and answer period. With attendance of over 100 people, there was ample opportunity for a real exchange of ideas and brainstorming—especially important for those interested in taking a proactive stance to prevent some of the possible negative side-effects which the growth in cruise tourism can have on local, historic areas and their residents.

Please click here for links to discussion topics, panelist biographies.